All Organic Products to Require NOP Import Certificates
Trade Update • January 31, 2023I
n a final rule, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) announced amending its regulations in a step towards strengthening oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, certification, marketing and sale of organic agricultural products as established by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA). These amendments close gaps in the current regulations to build consistent certification practices to deter and detect organic fraud and improve transparency and product traceability.
The rule, which aims to improve organic integrity across the organic supply chain and benefit stakeholders throughout the organic industry, will come into effect on March 20, 2023, and full compliance will be required as of March 19, 2024. It will strengthen enforcement of the USDA organic regulations through several actions mandated by the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, including:
- Reduce the types of uncertified entities in the organic supply chain that operate without USDA oversight—including importers, certain brokers, and traders of organic products. This will safeguard organic product integrity and improve traceability.
- Require the use of NOP Import Certificates for all organic products entering the United States. This change expands the use of NOP Import Certificates to all organic products imported into the United States, improving the oversight and traceability of imported organic products.
- Clarify the NOP’s authority to oversee certification activities, including the authority to act against an agent or office of a certifying agent. Additionally, certifying agents must notify the NOP upon opening a new office, which will allow the NOP to provide more effective and consistent oversight of certifying agents and their activities.
The amendments protect integrity in the organic supply chain and build consumer and industry trust in the USDA organic label by strengthening organic control systems, improving farm-to-market traceability, and providing robust enforcement of the USDA organic regulations. Topics addressed in the rulemaking include:
- Applicability of the regulations and exemptions from organic certification
- National Organic Program (NOP) Import Certificates
- Recordkeeping and product traceability
- Certifying agent personnel qualifications and training
- Standardized certificates of organic operation
- Unannounced on-site inspections of certified operations
- Oversight of certification activities
- Foreign conformity assessment systems
- Certification of producer group operations
- Labeling of nonretail containers
- Annual update requirements for certified operations
- Compliance and appeals processes
- Calculating organic content of multi-ingredient products
Questions or concerns about this certificate requirement for organic products and if your imports are affected? We are always here to help, contact us.